Carmakers owe some answers

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Like it or not, the reality is that the federal government is now involved in the automotive industry.

Now the American taxpayer is left wondering exactly what this means while the government has a tightrope to walk when in comes to its involvement.

That situation was magnified Monday when U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson joined more than 100 other members of Congress asking President Barack Obama to request Chrysler and GM halt all proposed dealership closures until some questions can be answered.

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This is something that should still happen regardless of Tuesday’s court ruling that says Chrysler can move forward.

Congress is right to ask this and we hope Barack Obama and the auto manufacturers comply, at least temporarily avoiding the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Central to the questions that Congress wants answered are: Who is making the decision to close these dealerships and what criteria was used? And how will this actually help the manufacturers?

These are certainly valid questions because many of the nearly 2,000 GM and Chrysler dealers slated to close either immediately or by the end of 2010 argue that they are profitable or that they essentially don’t cost the manufacturers anything.

However, our concern is that too much government involvement will bring politics into play and create a lobbying nightmare as various Congressmen fight to save jobs in their districts or states.

That isn’t what we need.

The American taxpayer, who because of billions of dollars in bailout funds now essentially has a vested interest in these manufacturers and a right to know how the restructuring process is being handled, deserves to know that this is being handled appropriately.

We also deserve to know exactly who is on the Auto Task Force reviewing this information and what their agenda is.

The reality is that some dealerships will have to be closed but it is imperative that these closures are handled fairly and consistently.